We had slow going through Denver due to snow and a typically busy Friday rush hour. Slow going through the foothills due to all the ski traffic. Slow going at higher elevations due to all the ice on the roads.
My husband, in the big pickup, was slipping a little here and there ahead of me as we got into the mountains. No big deal to him these roads, as he was in the mighty Dodge. But I, in the little Toyota Rav 4, almost slid off the mountains twice.
I'm not kidding.
The Eisenhower tunnel is a very long tunnel that passes through a mountain high in the the Rockies. It marks one of a couple of high points we always landmark as possibly troublesome this time of year. The weather reports for this pass usually say "possibility of snow," "icy/snowpacked," or "chain laws in effect." The forecast for that night, though, was just for light snow, so we weren't too worried. We usually worry only when the law requires the semis to put chains on their tires.
But we were pretty sure we'd gotten off easy as we approached the tunnel from the east; the roads were only a little wet on that side. However... the roads, as we came out on the west side, were a skating rink. You could pretty much tell this as soon as you exited the tunnel because the single file rows of cars that had behaved so politely and orderly in the tunnel, suddenly turned into a squirming, sliding mishmosh on the other side. The downhill side.
It's funny how, after twenty-five years or so of driving in this nasty weather, you really do go into auto pilot. At least at first. As soon as I started to slide, my motor memory (no pun intended) really did kick immediately into snow-driving mode : Never slam on the brakes when driving on ice; gently pump, gently pump, slow down nice.
Yeah, well. Nice rule. But as the "gentle pumping" seemed to have no effect whatsoever on my forward momentum, I consciously Gave Up on the rules and pushed the pedal to the floor.
What else could I do? Another instinct had kicked in here. I was coming up fast on the back of my husband's truck. I MASHED those brakes!
Meanwhile... even as all this instinctual physical activity was going on, my conscious brain was facing a different dilema. My conscious thoughts were running more along the lines of: Is it a good or a bad thing that I'm about to hit the back of my own vehicle?
Almost as soon as that thought crossed my mind, my Toyota slowly rotated south, and continued, graceful as Michelle Kwan, turning me (In slow motion it seemed, though in the space of a half a second...) right into the opposite, oncoming lanes of traffic!
The rules of snowdriving automatically kicked in again: Be a smart kid; steer into the skid. My hands on the steering wheel obeyed, but the car did not. "Steering into the skid" didn't do a lick of good.
You have to know that at that particular place in the highway, there is no guardrail between the east and westbound lanes, so there was nothing to stop me from sliding into oncoming traffic. Yikes!
At this point, I figured it would have been better to hit the back of the truck. Oh, definitely!
So, I'm sliding across the "empty" space that divided the west and eastbound traffic, helpless to do anything, still pushing with all my might down on the brake pedal, thinking, "If I hit one of those cars, will we both continue sliding until we go over the edge?"
At about that point another automatic impulse kicked into gear.
"Jesus, Mercy!" I yelled. (Not like I needed to yell for Him to hear me, but I couldn't help it.)
And, immediately, the tires caught and I swung the wheel around and moved back safely into my lane. Whew!
The second time, I was going, very slowly down another very steep hill. Around a curve. By this time the eastbound lanes had diverged onto their own bridges, so I didn't have to worry about sliding into oncoming traffic. I only had to worry about falling off the side of the mountain. But, no biggie. Not to God, Who has the whole world in His hand.
"Jesus, Mercy! Keep me safe!" I halloooed as I again slid sideways, unable to change direction or affect my momentum. And, as the words left my lips, again the wheels caught and I was able to steer safely back into my lane.
Yes, indeed. I know it was God. He scooped me up and set me right. Two times Friday night.
I know it was Him; I recognized the M.O.
He does this all the time.
He keeps me safe and sets me straight in spite of all my best intentions to do it myself.
But, He does like to be asked.
Thank-you, dear Lord.